Danielle and Jessie's End of Year Survey!

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Thanks to the hard work and sheer creativity of Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner!

Note: The survey is for books you read throughout the year, no matter when they were published, and is not limited to just books that came out in 2015!!


Number Of Books You Read:

Jessie: 341
Danielle: 120

Number of Re-Reads:

Jessie: 43
Danielle: 6

Genre You Read The Most From:

fantasy: 100
historical fiction: 67
contemporary (YA and adult): 60

Fantasy - 65
Contemporary - 22
Sci-fi / Romance - 8 each


1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

(If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2015 release vs. backlist)

Fantasy would be Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows! That book was fabulous and full of ships and pain and cleverness and heist faaaaaaaaantasy
Historical fiction would be The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller because holy shit is that is beautiful book.
Contemporary would be The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes because it's clever and unpredictable and a debut.

I gave 22 books five stars this year! How do I pick between 22 books?

Best MG / Best LGBT - George by Alex Gino because the scene where Melissa likes her pictures will have you on the floor in tears.
Romance - Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise. This book is a love letter to Italian food and banter and Calvin shuts down Min's mother in a way romance readers only dream of.
Fantasy - Six of Crows because if I wouldn't get arrested for copy-write violation, I would quote the whole damn book until you loved it too.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 

Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier for one. It was weird, confusing, and veeeery childish.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness was another. Such high hopes and very bored throughout. This was the first time a book of his didn't rate 4-stars or more from me.

Tonight the Streets Are Ours. Don't get me wrong, it's in no way a bad book, it just didn't live up to its own hype.  Sales once again wrote a relateable heroine, but I found the pacing off, with the eponymous "tonight" occupying far too little of the actual story and an eleventh-hour reunion to be saccharine and overly neat. 3.5 from a 5 star author.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

 Soundless by Richelle Mead. I didn't haaate it but it was vastly under her abilities as an author.
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I had written this off as "not a Jessie book" but then found a copy when I was stranded and.... ended up sobbing over it. So. Yeah.

Clowfellas by Carlton Mellick III. You forgot about the time I reviewed a clown gangster novel by the guy who wrote The Haunted Vagina, didn't you? WELL I DIDN'T. Even more surprisingly, Clownfellas is pretty good? In a, "your brain is melting", kind of way.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Widdershins books by Ari Marmell aka Thief's Covenant, False Covenant, Lost Covenant, and Covenant's End. I read them in late Sept-Oct. and it has been my mission ever since. I've gotten four people to start and about 8 more to add it to their TBRs. I am also NOT DONE YET READ THEM READ THEM READ THEMMM

I'm not a pusher! I mean I tried to get you all to read Pirate with me, but that's a misery loves company kind of thing.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman's Illuminae was a fanfuckingtastic series launch.
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas has to be the best sequel. I reread the whole series for that book and DAMN if it was not worth it.
Lady of the Eternal City ended Kate Quinn's Empress of Rome series perfectly.

Starter: Six of Crows/A Darker Shade of Magic/A Court of Thorns and Roses. We live in a time of balls fucking awesome fantasy and I need these three's sequels like yesterday.
Sequel: Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger. Maybe not better than Curtsies, but definitely on par and a solid step in the series. Oh, and Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews. But that's more an ender, because Kate and Curran and Julie and the Attack Poodle all lived happily ever after and there is no book five, lalalalala I can't hear you.
Ender: Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers. Annith. 

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Taylor Jenkins Reid. Maybe In Another Life and After I Do really made me think about love, marriage, commitment. Not typical love stories but ones that make you FEEEEL things.
Sherry Thomas's The Burning Sky trilogy made a definite impact and I want many more YA fantasies from this lady.

I just did a TTT on this topic, but gun to my head? Ilona Andrews. I've gotten more joy out of the Kate Daniels books that possibly any series this decade.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. So much hype and so much love and I am a nerd but not an 80s geek or a gamer or.... so yah. This was outside my wheelhouse but I ended up liking it very much.

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley. My historical fiction is pretty strictly Regency romances and Tudor plotting, but this timeslip between the 90s and the Restoration eras works surprisingly well, with a twist that could have qualified it for answer 3.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. It wasn't completely perfect but this was such a fun read. It was creative and different and actiontastic and I read it in one sitting.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. If it wasn't for reading along with Jessie, I might have had that book done and reread in three days. Where is my Crooked Kingdom?

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. Gotta get ready for the third book!
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey so I can relive those feeeeels.
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab so I can mentally gird myself for A Gathering of Shadows.


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?



11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Kaz/Inej from Six of Crows. Nick/Bex/Freddie from The Royal We. Titus/Iolanthe from The Burning Sky trilogy. Lia from The Heart of Betrayal. The Crew from the Lunar Chronicles books (but seriously where is my Iko book??)

The whole Six of Crows crowd. Cobalt Zosia in A Crown for Cold Silver. Don Bozo from Clownfellas. (We didn't specify memorable good.)

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

If we include rereads: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

I don't know that I had anything life-changing but Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy Tale Endings was fascinating and interesting. Taylor Jenkins Reid's books are also really clever and make you think about love and relationships.

I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

The Dagger and the Coin series by Daniel Abraham (The Dragon's Path, The King's Blood, The Tyrant's Law, and The Widow's House) . Once I started that one, I could not stop. I had to have the next book as son as I finished. Unlikely protagonists, clever plots (with banking???), fresh ideas in fantasy and NO RAPE. Yessss please.

Fables by Bill Willingham. I love graphic novels, I love fairy tales, I loved Wolf Among Us. Why didn't I want to read these comics?

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015? 

I did really bad at keeping track of favorite quotes this last year.

From Eric by Terry Pratchett:

"Preeminent among Rincewind's talents was his skill in running away, which over the years he had elevated to the status of a genuinely pure science; it didn't matter if you were fleeing from or to, so long as you were fleeing. It was flight alone that counted. I run therefore I am; more correctly, I run, therefore with any luck, I'll still be." 

"It's not just men who need adventures, you know."
Sarah Pinborough, Beauty

"We were murderers and poisoners, innocents and warriors. And without us, Alexander would have been only a man.

Instead, he was a god."
The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton


"Shins, what's the signal if you need help?"
"Screaming. Lots of screaming. Probably breaking things. Sometimes, there's fire."
False Covenant by Ari Marmell


"I prefer to fill my own gut before I plug a squirming wench's belly with my manroot."

Pirate by Fabio

or is it...

“Jesper knocking his head against the hull and cast his eyes heavenward. "Fine. But if Pekka Rollins kills us all, I'm going to get Wylan's ghost to teach my ghost how to play the flute just so that I can annoy the hell out of your ghost."
Brekker's lips quirked. "I'll just hire Matthias' ghost to kick your ghost's ass."
"My ghost won't associate with your ghost," Matthias said primly, and then wondered if the sea air was rotting his brain.”

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

the world may never know.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Shortest: The Horrid Glory of Its Wings by Elizabeth Bear (35 pages)
Longest: Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (944 pages)

Shortest: Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson (35 pages) (weird? -D)
Longest: A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall (656 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Illuminae shocked me for a minute or two, ditto A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Deadline by Mira Grant. You monsters.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Ohhh boy. No way is this going to be just one. I ship a lot and I ship it HARD.

Titus/Iolanthe from The Burning Sky. Aelin/Rowan from Queen of Shadows. Kaz/Inej from Six of Crows. Lysandra/Aedion from Queen of Shadows. Nick/Bex from The Royal We. Agnieszka/theDragon from Uprooted. Gideon/Sofia from Their Fractured Light. Ezra/Kady from Illuminae.

Kaz/Inej. All day. Every day. Twice on Sundays.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Reagan and Vic from Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler! Those two were such honest characters; I have immense love for them.

Julie and Kate from the Kate Daniels novels.

'"Derek's being very careful. What did I tell you about plastic ties?"
"Only for humans," Julie murmured.
"If you don't listen to me, I can't teach you anything."'

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Instead of going with the ones I've used.. let's say Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu. Her first book was good but this was an honest and unflinching look at life in a cult like the Duggars.

Trade Me by Courtney Milan. I can't get over how much I enjoyed my favorite Victorian romance author switching to contemporary NA with swearing, a WOC main character, and a trans best friend who's getting her own romantic sequel. And AFR might be the best character of the year. I should go back and change my answer to question 11.

21. Best Book You Read In 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley and The Martian by Andy Weir were reads based on the rec and love of my lovely friend Lyn from Great Imaginations.
All three Taylor Jenkins Reid books (Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and Forever, Interrupted) based on the love of Aly from Swept Away by Books.

George. I thought it was going to be way too young and superficially handled, but seeing reviews, specifically Paige @ The YA Kitten's, (I trust her basically implicitly on LGBT issues,) made my decision to request.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Freddie from The Royal We without a doubt, but also Tamlin from A Court of Thorns and Roses and Kaz from Six of Crows and yeaaaah.

Literally everyone from Six of Crows. Like the whole team and I are going to earn all the stereotypes about bi/poly women.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes. READ IT.

I feel bad, but George is the only 2015 debut I gave more than 3 stars to.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Seven Realms books by Cinda Williams Chima were impressive, as were the Lunar Chronicles books (I reread the first three). Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman for sure, and last but not least the Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson

Even though I didn't end up liking the book, I think I have to give that to A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Definitely The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler.
The Royal We and its older but younger-aimed sibling, Spoiled by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks.

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. Squirrel!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

I cried during all Taylor Jenkins Reid's novels, I cried in I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, I cried in Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. And also Made You Up by Francesca Zappia.  (Also Me Before You and The Song of Achilles as mentioned before.)

Guys, this is me. I cried at Clownfellas. (Shut up. You cried. The porcelain doll. Shut up.)
I cried in every single Marchetta, especially Jellicoe Road. I didn't stop crying at I'll Meet You There for 80 straight pages. Sculptor by Scott McCloud. Devoted. THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS WHEN THE PARADE, OH MY GOD. Oh and George. Oh my god did I cry at George.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Definitely the Widdershins books. Also Knight's Shadow by Sebastien de Castell, the second in his Greatcoats series.
Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler is another one. And also Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez.

School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough. I LOVED this book. It was exactly what I wanted as a follow up to HP and PJO, but it doesn't seem to have taken off. Seriously, I don't think y'all would be disappointed if you read it.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn? It had been so highly recc'd and then it was a genuine mess of plots and POVs and uuuugh.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Is there any other answer besides Illuminae? I mean, really?

Cam Girl by Leah Raeder. It took a lot of twists and turns and blended thriller with coming of age in a way I didn't see coming.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed. It made me so mad and so sad and it also made me think. I can't recommend it enough, really, for fans of YA contemporary.

After Hours by Claire Kennedy, and unlike Jessie, I can recommend it enough. By never recommending it.

I'm saying it's bad.


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

Oh man, way too many to name them all. Bring My Books was definitely one I found and loved this year, though.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

I liked my series review for the original Shannara trilogy a lot. It was just something I felt like doing for fun for these 20+ year old books and it was a really popular review. So, yeah.

Every year I realize I only like my reviews where I hated everything. So yeah, read Pirate by Fabio again.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I don't really go in for discussion posts. I did have fun with the Unpopular Opinions tag, tho.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Sadly no signings or festivals for me! But that should be changing in 2016...

Same. I still have never met an author, though I did get two gorgeous signed copies from my Secret Sister, which was definitely the best event I've participated in.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

Well, I did get married in a bookish themed wedding sooo there is that :D

pssst and Danielle made those gorgeous flowers for me

Fucking Ditto

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I hit some slumps blog-wise this year, I am not going to lie. I am almost 5 years into blogging and this last year is the closest I have come to giving it up as a hobby. I got burned out.. but by pressuring myself less, I began to miss it and enjoy it more when I would blog.

Unlike on tv, medications for anxiety and depression don't work immediately and perfectly and you go back to being able to sleep regularly and having a great work ethic and the energy to write long, detailed posts after one dose.

0/10 would not recommend.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

This is one of my favorite stats to look up. We're not a huge blog. We consistently get between 100 - 150 hits on a new book, 180 - 210 on a backlist or a top ten list. For some reason, these posts resonated with you guys just a little more. (Or someone way bigger linked them.) - D

Jessie: Backlist Review: Jellicoe Road.  Viewed 562 times in four months!

Danielle: Blog Tour: Tonight the Streets Are Ours. Viewed 309 times.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Broken record time, but my reviews for the Widdershins books. They are SO FUN.

To All The Books I Forgot to Review. I wrote twenty four mini reviews. I nearly died. So you could all know not to read Battlesaurus.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I discovered Book Outlet last year... so... not much for this one. Pic Monkey is great for photos for reviews and features? That's all I've got.

Sadly, my best discovery was the best plagiarism checker. (I like paperrater, btw.) Let's not do that again in 2016, eh?

Also magnetic bookmarks from HelloPapers and BookedYouUp

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

 I set out to read 115 books; I read 120. 
I set out to read 10 - 15 retellings for The Daily Prophecy's Fairytale Challenge; I read 13.
I wanted to read 40 fantasy books for Flights of Fantasy; I read 53.

This year I'll be doing Flights of Fantasy again, though I won't be counting Urban Fantasy in my totals this year. I want to focus more on swords and sorcery. I've also signed up for #RockMyTBR. I need to make a list, but I'm hoping to read 20-30 books from my current shelves, which would be a quarter to a sixth of my yearly books.

I set out at 250 books for the year and bumped it to 285 about halfway through. I ended up with 341 books for the year.
I aimed for 75 high/epic/low fantasy novels with Flights of Fantasy. I ended up reading 100.
I set a goal of between 16 and 20 for the fairytale challenge and wound up with a total of 23.

Next year I am definitely signing onto Flights of Fantasy for a second time. I'm also doing Rock My TBR, and Backlist Books!


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS by Sherry Thomas! I marathoned the first two books but have not had a chance to read the finale. This will probably be my first read of 2016.

Queen of Shadows! What am I doing with my life? Also Shadows of Self!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?

WINK POPPY MIIIIIIDNIIIIIIGHT. I don't know why I want it so badly all I know is that I just DO.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Gimmmmeeee

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I am reaaaaalllly bad at keeping track of this stuff.... is The Crown's Game a debut? Cause that's totally my answer.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

Can I just say Winds of Winter and we all pretend really hard that this going to happen? No? Then Gemina, The Fate of the Tearling, and ToG #5.


Also A Gathering of Shadows, The Thorn of Emberlain, ToG5, and Winds of Winter which is totally coming.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

BEA! I know I said it last year, but 2016 girls. It's happening.

Every year I try to meet or exceed last year's books, so for 2016 I want to read another 120 books or 38,400 pages. I found I was avoiding longer books because I didn't want to "fall behind", so this year I'm focusing more on page count. (Yes, Sanderfans, Words of Radiance. I freaking hear you.)

BEA for the second time! I'm going to get my owned unread piles of books down by at least 100. I'm going to get back into comment bombs and sprees. Maybe work on a new feature... A new look for the blog is definitely in the offing...

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

I actually have not yet read many 2016 releases. One I did just finish was Kali Wallace's Shallow Graves and it was a fun, different read. It reminded me of Dexter meets Supernatural for the YA crowd.

The only 2016 I've read already is Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn. I really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I'd rec it to everyone because it does feature some pretty heavy triggers.

Top Books of 2015

Tuesday, December 29, 2015
It's the end of 2016 and time for best of lists! I like to hold off til late in December because... well, I read a lot and cutting off 20 - 25 possible amazing books just doesn't seem very fair to me. I also read a lot in a year (340 as of today!) , so my best of lists are pretty much the few books that earn a full 5-stars from me over the course of the last 12 months.

That said, there are only two full days left in 2015 and I have to narrow down my favorites for at least one list.

Here are my Top  Books of 2015

1. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #1)
Heist fantasy with a cast to dream of. So many lovely tropes, so many ships, so much cleverness, and so much pain.

2. Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (The Illuminae Files #1)
Space, zombies, evil AI, teen romance, found footage/document style. It almost shouldn't worlk but holy shit does it ever. 

3. The Royal We by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks
I've loved the Fug Girls for years but this novel was their best yet. It was so hilarious and real and full of great characters. I feel a constant need to reread, honestly.

4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The surprise of the year! I had Novik on my fantasy radar for her Napoleon and dragons books, but this book and THIS Dragon? Stole the show! It was full of some of my favorite fantasy elements and I didn't want it to ever end.

5. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
My first novel by this author and it had me scrambling to read her bibliography. TJR is clever and explores love stories in fresh and emotional ways. This book made me think and made me cry. It was lovely.

6. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #4)
So Maas does not disappoint with book four. It was long, it was epic, it was intense, and it was goddamn unpredictable. Manon and Abraxos remain perfect and Lysandra as sorta retconned into a dimensional character. HERE FOR IT.

7. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Beautiful and terrible. We all know how this story ends and though Miller cashes in on that pain, the novel is written so exceedingly well it almost makes you forget how it will all end.

8. The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
Hands down the best YA contemporary I read in 2015. This book is so memorable and original and impressive. It's got a great plot, the main character is fantastic, and damn does Oakes know how to wriiiiite.

9. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
Feminist poems with a fairytale theme? Okay I was sold on that but I was also apprehensive.. but Heppermann is a one of a kind talent and this book is everything you/I want it to be.

10. The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton
Okay so what The Song of Achilles did for well, Achilles, this did for Alexander the Great + Hephaestion and the women of his life. It was a finely tuned emotional whirlwind; the best kind of historical fiction.

11. Winter by Marissa Meyer
A series conclusion that more than satisfied expectations; in a lot of ways, Meyer exceeded the hopes. It may have run a little long  but I was not complaining about extra time spent with one of the best character casts in YA.

12. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
A contemporary YA retelling of the Little Mermaid with an interracial romance? Written by Sarah Ockler? Another one that lived up the hype, this was such a well-written contemporary that both paid homage to the Little Mermaid and also created its own characters and plot.

Runners-up aka other 5-star reads:
Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen,  After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn, and I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios.

Late December Books!

Sunday, December 27, 2015
I surprisingly enough... did not get any books for Christmas for the first time in a looooong time. But I have plenty to read and the ones I did get in the last few weeks more than make up for that.


Harper had a drop and of course I went a little overboard but first I have to mention this gorgeousness that Pyr approved me for:

Masks and Shadows and Stephanie Burgis

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy's carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus's mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband's death.

Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace's golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress--a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

That cover is flawless, that synopsis is promising, and I don't know how long I will be able to hold off reading this one.

Aaaand now the Harper eARCs I could not resist:

The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott - contemporary YA with two best friends road tripping please tell me it turns into looooooove.

Ask Me How I Got Here  by Christine Heppermann - loved this author's feminsit fairytale poems so her novel about teen abortion, even though it's verse, is a must read.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows - a fantastical retelling of the life of Jane Grey? Even if the authors veer off course of history, I am so there.

Ruined by Amy Tintera (Untitled #1) - a fantasy series from this author! I loved her debut so I am betting on that. The premise sounds somewhat generic but we shall see.

The Last Time We Were Us by Leah Konen - this is a bit iffy -- sounds very romance and love triangle heavy - but I am willing to give it at least a try.

Frannie & Tru by Karen Hattrup - not too sure what to expect from this YA contemporary but the early reviews are promising.

Even if the Sky Falls by Mia Garcia - another YA contemporary romance but this one sounded promising enough and is a debut with a 24-hour romance.

Night Speed by Chris Howard - I haven't heard too much about this or the author but I love books about superhuman strength.

Liars and Losers Like Us by Ami Allen-Vath - a debut novel that looks like it might be funny and edgy enough to stand out. Also but possible it's a POC MC? I'm hoping so, from that cover.

Spark by Holly Schindler - another I'm not 100% sure is a me book but one that sounds interesting enough to at least try a chapter or two. This reminded me of Lisa Mantchev's Theatre Illuminata trilogy from the synopsis.

Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman - I loved Prisoner of Night and Fog quuuite a lot this author plus Charles II and Milton and wayward daughters = 100% here for it.

Autofocus by Lauren Gibaldi - Gibaldi's debut this year was fun but flawed and this seems like a more engaging story. I wasn't a huge fan but I liked TNWSY enough to keep trying at least one more novel.

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes - I really loved Stokes other contemporary The Art of Laine so you know that this release is highly anticipated and I am thriiiiiillllled to read this. It'll jump the revew queue.

Wanderlost by Jen Malone - Sisters, abroad, roadtripping, possible and probably meet cute? It sounds like a Stephanie Perkins kinda contemporary and though I usually go for the darker sort, this sounds like a great fun read.

The Marked Girl by Lindsay Klingele - portal fantasy! I have not read a portal fantasy in a long time and this one connects LA with fantasy princes. I'm not sure if it's more of a thriller or a fantasy but I am pretty excited to find out by June.


This. Savage. Song. by Victoria Schwaaaaab (Monsters of Verity #1) - do I even need to talk about how excited I am to get an ARC of a Schwab novel? And THIS novel? I may be reading it right now. Who knows.


Funnily enough all the things in this section are from Bekka of Pretty Deadly Reviews, lol.

Gifted: The Opal Crown by Jenny Lunquist (The Opal Mask #2) and Ghost from Game of Throoooones! Bekka gave me the series debut last year so it's lovely of her to finish the series.
Won: The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson - I have been hearing buzz from trusted sources and the synopsis is admittedly Jessiebait. So here's hoping it's as good as promised.


Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler (Daylight Falls #1) -- signed, personalized, kissed! I am beyond excited to a. have a matching set and b. finally start this series!

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories From History Without the Fairy Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie = fascinating stories of women from history (aaaand one or two from legend/myth) but v v good.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid -- Reidd's other two novels fast became favorites this year and though her debut was not on the level of Maybe in Another Life or After I Do, it was still an emotional, thoughtful, different book.

That's it for me! Any new reads you're excited about for 2016??


Review: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Title: The Rest of Us Just Live Here
Author: Patrick Ness
Genre: contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Published: August 2015
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 2.5/5

What if you aren’t the Chosen One?

The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?

What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.

Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.

Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

This is another one of those books that I can see what the author is trying to do... but the execution doesn't quiiiite live up to the idea behind the story for me. It's the classic "not as bad as it could be but also not as good as it had the potential to be" situation and this one hurts. Patrick Ness is admittedly clever, original, and a fantastic writer; this is the first time in four books I finished a Ness novel with a less than four-star rating. The Rest of Us Just Live Here wants to subvert tropes and plots and instead ends up meandering from minor plot point to minor plot point. It has none of the life or spark that is so present in his other novels and ended up a mediocre reading experience.  

I never cared for participation trophies when I was a teen or younger, and this book feels like a participation trophy in novel form. It tries, it really does. I get that we see the same plot arcs in different trappings and personalities, but those stories? Are interesting, for the most part. The successful ones, anyway. The main issue I had with The Rest of Us Just Live Here is that the group of kids at the heart of the novel are.... boring. Sure I liked the diversity and variety of the teenage life shown but these kids just... hang out. It's more accurate to the real high school experience, sure, but it doesn't really make for an interesting read. There's no real driving force behind the story -- Mikey likes Henna, Henna might like someone else. An indie kid dies -- off screen. Repeat, add family issues, repeat for 300 pages.

Even though the plot and characters fell flat for me, I cannot deny Ness's obvious other talents as an author. The man can write. Even when I was less than interested, his writing has a way of connecting with a reader. It's magical and I just wish the end result here had felt more focused, with a clear plot and more dynamic characters. There are also thinly veiled homages to Buffy that only made me like the obvious inspiration for the novel more. I can't say this is a book for everyone, and while it wasn't for me I can still see why others are such fans.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree This Year

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Welcome, once again, to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by our friends at The Broke and The Bookish! Today, we're pretending I've been a very good girl and asking Santa for the books under my tree this year.

All of them.

That was an easy list!

OK, no. Space is at a premium and I generally prefer ebooks, so there is a limit to what I actually want Santa to put under the tree. (Not that I'd say no to anything.) (Not a hint.)

Nancy Drew is a childhood fave and she reminds me of summers spent at my great-grandma's in rural West Virginia. I have many of the original 56 in the yellow hardbacks, some of them dating back to the first 50s revision, but have you seen the new covers? With the re-release of 5-8, 1-4 are now in this beyond gorgeous box set. Please Santa!

Santa is magic. And I need magic Santa to procure this for me two months early, before I explode. Please and thanks.

Gail Carriger is an autobuy for me, but I've gotten two books behind! My copies of The Parasol Protectorate are half ebooks/half trade, but with the Finishing School series, I somehow started collecting hardcovers. Santa can sort that out for me.

I had my top book of 2014 in hardcover. It was beautiful and the star of my yellow shelf. And then I loaned it away. ;_;

You know how gorgeous this book is. I know how gorgeous this book is. Santa knows how gorgeous this book is.

I vastly prefer physical copies of art and craft books and Ekaterina is probably the greatest modular folder putting out diagrams right now. I would basically give a foot to have half her talent, but Santa could at least give me a leg up with her books.

Have you seen this set? I die. I literally die.

OK, how many copies of the Dunk and Egg books does one woman really need? At least one more when you see the illustrations Gianni did. Chop chop, Claus. 

I can't believe I haven't got Winter yet! Another autobuy author that I have the whole series in hardback and I forgot to buy the last book. Definitely need to rectify this, Sants. 

The Stories of Ray Bradbury is the most important book of my teenage years. My library had this 1980s cover and I wasn't seen without it for two years. I checked it out so many times I filled the pocket card. I have the rerelease, which is beautiful, but there's something about the truly hideous combination of tangerine and fuchsia that I want more than anything. 

So, what about you guys? Are you book hoarders, hoping Santa brings you anything and everything? Or are you more of a collector with your eyes on box sets and leatherbounds? 

Two Minute Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Title: Bone Gap
Author: Laura Ruby
Genre: magical realism
Series: N/A
Pages: 373
Published: March 2015
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 2/5

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?

Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.

As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

Bone Gap is a weird book. Magical realism is always going to be a hit or miss genre - what works for one reader might make no sense at all to another. That is the case here with Bone Gap -- it's been lauded as fantastic and feminist and original. And while I see the third as accurate,  I don't get the same reading as the fans of the novel and don't see it as fantastic. I wanted to love it but it's just not my brand of magical realism.

For me, the elements of supernatural or magic, have to make some kind of sense in the novel. For example in my experience, Nova Ren Suma is great at incorporating magical elements seamlessly; Laura Ruby's attempts are blunt and unexplained. It's a short book, but it makes little to no sense. I could see the richness of Ruby's prose but the plot and execution were too muddled.

Review: Almost Interesting by David Spade

Monday, December 14, 2015
Title: Almost Interesting
Author: David Spade
Genre: Memoir
Series: none
Pages: 240
Published: October 27th, 2015
Source: publisher via edelweiss
Rating: 2/5

A hilarious and biting memoir from the actor, comedian and Saturday Night Live alumni David Spade.

David Spade is best known for his harsh “Hollywood” Minute Sketches onSNL, his starring roles in movies like Joe Dirt and Tommy Boy, and his seven-year stint as Dennis Finch on the series Just Shoot Me. Now, with a wit as dry as the weather in his home state of Arizona, the “comic brat extraordinaire” tells his story in Almost Interesting.

First Taking fans back to his childhood as a wannabe cool younger brother and recounting his excruciating road-tour to fame—when he was regularly mistaken for a ten year-old, Spade then dishes about his time crisscrossing the country as a comedian, for low-paying gigs and dragging along his mother’s old suitcase full of props. He also covers his years on SNL during the beloved Rock/Sandler/Farley era of the 1990s, including his close working relationship and friendship with Chris Farley and brags about the ridiculous perks that fame has brought into his life, including the constant fear of being fired, a crazy ex-assistant who attached him while he was sleeping, a run-in with Eddie Murphy on the mean streets of Beverley Hills, and of course an endless supply of hot chicks.

Sometimes dirty, always funny, and as sharp as a tack, Almost Interesting reminds you why David Spade is one of our generation’s favorite funny guys.

A lot of comedians, including Mr. Spade, choose to write their biographies like an extended stand-up special, which works for approximately three quarters of the material.

Spade's gone through some shit. Poverty, personal loss, professional setbacks. His step-father, a vet with PTSD, killed himself during a police man hunt. His best friend OD'd at the height of his fame, leave Spade to tell his story forever more. His assistant tried to kill him. The levity and deadpan sarcasm keep the book from sinking into a pity party, but I don't feel Spade let genuine emotions come out and connect to the audience.

There are two sections, both about Chris Farley's death, that did resonate and made me wish there was a little more authenticity to the book. The first is when he admits to feeling a kinship with Dave Grohl, "because both of the guys we were very close to got very famous quickly and then died, and we stuck around to field question about them for the rest of our lives. It is an honor, but not an easy one sometimes." The second is a very simple, "I miss him," in the middle of a larger story about Farley wanking it to Spade's girlfriend.

Unfortunately, instead of exploring any of those feelings or even discussing his more recent projects, the book trickles off after Chris' death. We close with a love advice section that goes for the cheap, "women, am I right?!" laugh, without ever acknowledging that while Spade never married, he does have a daughter. She hasn't effected his life in any way?

This was my second biography that looked at the LA comedy scene and I did find it interesting to hear from a relatively successful comedian who didn't make it at The Comedy Store. I also liked the look into the difference of New York comedy and SNL, though I'd have liked a bit more on the actual work that went on there.

In all, Spade's biography could have been more. I can only recommend it to Tommy Boy fans. If you like Spade on sitcoms or animated movies, or even in Dickie Roberts and Grown Ups, you're probably not the right audience.

December DNFs

Sunday, December 13, 2015
A few of these I am really surprised and disappointed about but I just... don't feel like reading books that take too much time or energy or just don't excite me. I had high hopes for each of these four -- especially for the fantasies - but just none of the following have worked for me in the last few weeks.

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

I made it pretty far into Sword and Verse before conceding that it just wasn't the type of YA fantasy I like. I really liked the premise and some of the worldbuilding --- but it's all too superficial and flimsy. It doesn't help that the book and main character are more interested in the romance plot than anything else. That's fine --- it's jut not the type of fantasy I want to read. 

Read 270/384 - roughly 70% and then skimmed the rest.

A Better Man by Leah McLaren

 Every couple has a wish list.

Maya wants
Nick to come home earlier
To engage with their children
To engage with her

Nick wants . . .
A divorce

Having decided that their marriage is over, Nick is determined to leave quickly and with dignity. But when he looks into the financial realities of splitting up, he realizes that more of his hard-earned income than he can handle will go to Maya.
Then a mutual friend proposes that Nick improve the marriage in order to end it amicably, because the better father and husband he is, the more self-sufficient Maya becomes and the cheaper his pay-out will be at the end.

But as Nick sets out to be a better man, he starts to feel like one. Time with his kids, dinners with his wife, fewer hours in the office has the strange effect of making him happier. As Maya starts to feel appreciated by her husband again, she starts to blossom, to unclench her fists from the parenting reins and start to do things for herself.

Nick and Maya feel like they are falling back in love. How odd, how funny, how serendipitous. But if Maya knew what had promoted this marital metamorphosis? Then it would be war.

A BETTER MAN is the story of a modern marriage on the rocks, how we constantly change in and out of relationships, and the price of love.
I admittedly did not get far into this book.. but it was just so distasteful and horrible. I've read narratives about unhappy marriages before but this one is so... dire. This book is only 320 pages long but I read about 100 before setting it down for good. I rated this one 1-star even though I didn't finish because it was just that much of a disconnect in that short of time.

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak

"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."
Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD...for four hours. She's totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she'll never see him again.

Except, Stella's life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry – lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer? 

Holy crap was this this novel predictable and blah. I thought it might be too cutesy and I was right. The premise skews a bit twee for me but I had heard good word of mouth.  However, I could predict the love interest, the inherent mixup and then romance as soon as the first walked into the book. I read maybe three chapters, and the end. I was right. This is just not the type of contemporary YA I am drawn to.

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

 It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.

The two stars I gave this novel pains me; it pains me as much as the fact that it took me weeks to get through the 55% percent I managed before throwing in the towel. I enjoyed the series debut last year but the sequel is a plodding mess driven by dull characters acting out a tired dynamic. It draaags and it's a long book. The premise wears really thin and makes even less sense once it's revisited in a second novel. I just.. couldn't.

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